'We pray for you in your suffering’
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Baptists worldwide have expressed their condemnation of the terrorist attack in New Zealand, and reiterated their commitment to religious freedom for all
Fifty people were killed and dozens injured when a gunman opened fire on two mosques in Christchurch on Friday (15 March).
Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a man with self-confessed white-supremacist views, has been charged with murder.
The Baptist Churches of New Zealand described the events as ‘horrific’, adding that the prayers of the Baptist movement are with the many victims and their families and friends.
Charles Hewlett, the National Leader, flew to Christchurch to be with the Baptist community as it prayed for the Muslim community and joined in their lament.
He said, ‘The Baptist Churches of New Zealand share in grief with the Muslim community. You should be able to practise your faith in peace. We sharply condemn all hatred and violence. We pray for you in your suffering.’
Elijah Brown, General Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, offered the following statement, in which he condemned the attack and pledged prayerful support. He encouraged people of goodwill to ‘support religious freedom for all, reject discriminatory marginalization.’
‘To the many who find themselves unexpectedly confronted with injury and the loss of family and friends following the horrific attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, the Baptist World Alliance grieves with you and will pray for you. I am grateful for the leadership and actions of the Baptist Churches of New Zealand who offer physical solidarity in the days ahead.
‘To Muslim communities who might have a heightened sense of fear, and in particular to the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, BWA Baptists condemn hatred and violence and pledge our prayers and relational support. On behalf of the Baptist World Alliance, with 47 million members in 125 countries and territories, I call on all people of goodwill to support religious freedom for all, reject discriminatory marginalization, and build communities who pray for one another, support one another, and value the image of God found in each and every person.’
Both the Baptists Together and European Baptist Federation shared the statement from the Baptist Churches of New Zealand on their Facebook pages on Friday. Lynn Green, our General Secretary said, 'We are part of a global Baptist family and Elijah Brown voices our horror, our solidarity and our commitment to pray.' Tony Peck, EBF General Secretary, commented, ‘We stand in prayerful solidarity with the New Zealand Baptists in response to the horrific attacks and loss of life among the Muslim community of Christchurch.’
The Inter Faith Network (IFN) for the United Kingdom said the attack was a reminder of the need to work together ‘with ever greater urgency against ignorance, prejudice and hatred’.
The Baptist Union of Great Britain belongs to IFN through its Inter Faith Working Group.
The IFN statement read: ‘Today's appalling terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, have been responded to here in the UK with prayers, condemnation, and demonstrations of solidarity with the Muslim community, including at the Friday prayer.
‘As we said after the murderous attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh USA last year, attacks on churches, gurdwaras, mosques, temples and other places of worship of different faiths here and around the world are a reminder of the need to condemn extremist violence in the strongest terms and to stand together and to continue to work together with ever greater urgency against ignorance, prejudice and hatred.
‘Hatred targeting any community because of its faith and belief is a scourge that cannot be tolerated. There must be freedom to worship and practise our faith freely and without fear.’